Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The East India Company lives again in India

We read in our history books in schools that Queen Victoria took away the reign and rains of India from the East India Company and we thought that that was that. Of course we never looked into what happened to the company thereafter thinking that it must have rolled up its activities and that was that.

We should have known better. We did not do so when the Company entered India. We were lost in establishing new kingdoms and conquering more territories and looked almost pityingly at these people with the scales in their hands and asked only for permission to open shops in India. We did not appreciate or even care that in fact they were weighing us in their scales and then artificially tilting the scale this or that way like the monkey in the Aesop’s fables they ate away most of the butter and claimed whatever remained at the end as their commission.

They did leave India being forced by their own people to quit (not us forcing them out) However, they left a legacy of weighing everything in terms of profit and loss. We forgot the legacy of Damaji Pant of Mangalwedha who at the risk of brining upon himself the wrath of the Sultan opened the godowns of corn collected as taxes and allowed the starving people to help himself or herself. The godowns in Kolkata overflowing with rice were kept locked up despite the fact that the poor starved to death before the closed doors. Mind well, these godowns were not of the East India Company or even of the Britishers but of Indian like you or me. Yet the profit motive, which drove the East India Company to force the farmers to cultivate opium and indigo plants in the 19the century to meet the growing demands for it in China, was our models. Even now with all our tall talks of altruism wheat is rotting in the godowns or for lack of them stores in the open in leaked or directly falling rain water we cannot see our way to rather distribute it before it rots away completely to the starving millions. We rather tend to boast our capacity of exporting food grains where at one time we depended entirely upon imported grains. As they say every forth roti of our meals came from American wheat and we were ridiculed as living from American what to mouth.

We have reversed completely our once dearly held values-Best Farming, Medium Trade and Lowest Service. Now almost everybody is after getting qualifications to catch a well-paying post preferably in a MNC, never mind if it is engaged in exploiting India. Trade, not licit trading but one entirely motivated by profit is our high priority. Agriculture comes last. There also the emphasis is on cash crops never mind if we will have to revert to the days of eagerly waiting for foreign ships bringing food grains.

And that East India Company is staging a comeback here. It is small satisfaction that this East India Company is now owned by an Indian financier Mr.Sanjay Mehta.In his introductory speech he even lauds the East India Company saying that ‘the world would have been a different place if East India Company was not there. ‘The East India Company,’He goes on,’ was the Google of its time. It controlled the world’s navigation routes it way the online giant controls many information routes today. The East India Company’s input in the world was massive.’ If he was to believed the East India Company is one of the most recognized brands in the world with over two billion people aware of its history. If this is so Indians like me are indeed ignoramus who had consigned it to the dunghill of history. He further adds that he hopes to capitalize on and retain the East India Company’s brand ‘which he describes as of impeccable pedigree and enviable heritage.’

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Be on your guard! The East India Company is staging a comeback. If I were Mr.Mehta I would have at least changed the name of the Company to dissociate it from all the unhappy memories (for India) of the past.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Liked ,Great Warning to the YOUTHS they have life ahead.keep on posting such material and WARN

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